21 May 2024

A Dutch museum on Thursday (September 16) unveiled a previously unknown work by Vincent van Gogh — a study for one of his best-known drawings, “Worn Out” — in which an old man sits in a chair with his head in his hands.

Van Gogh “was really interested in the ordinary person, he was also looking to express emotion,” said Van Gogh Museum Director Emilie Gordenker.

“I think we’re all coming out of the COVID period feeling like this and the amazing thing is that we can share this with our visitors. We’re open, we’re delighted to be open.”

Discoveries of works by the famously troubled artist, who died in 1890, are extremely rare. The drawing is owned by a private collector and had never been known of or displayed.

“So when (the owner) came to the museum it was a big surprise,” said the museum’s house researcher Teio Meenendorp, adding that the piece was relatively easy to authenticate.

The 50 x 30 cm (20 x 12 inch) work was done with Van Gogh’s favorite drawing tool, a carpenter’s pencil, in his distinctive style, on water-marked paper from 1877.

It closely resembles the more famous “Old Man” drawing, but the perspective is at eye-level with the old man, rather than from above.

The Dutch artist was troubled by mental illness and considered himself a failure. He returned to the theme with an oil painting known as “Sorrowing Old Man”, based on the lithograph, two months before his own death.

Van Gogh died on July 29, 1890, of a self-inflicted gun wound.